elections 2010

Do not demonize the Executive Department

The statement of Fr. Castro is entirely, baseless and speculative, the $434-million financial compact to help the present administration to address the issue on poverty and corruption.  No such thing as embracing the US ideology in exchange for this grant. That is a complete lie. – Fr. Castro is completely hallucinating for making such remark. Father, please do not demonize the Executive Department. Read more

Transcript of BSAIII's speech at the meeting of the Liberal Party's National Executive Council

Transcript of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III’s speech at the meeting of the Liberal Party’s National Executive Council, November 16, 2009, Balay, Expo Centro, Cubao, Quezon City

Transcript of Speech at the Meeting of the Liberal Party’s National Executive Council

Nais ko pong pasalamatan ang aking mga kapwa Liberal dahil sa inyong pagsuporta sa amin ni Mar. Tinuturing ko pong isang napakalaking karangalan ang inyong mainit na pagtanggap sa amin ng akin pong partner. At siguro po, talagang napakasarap marinig ang inyong suporta dahil ito po ay nanggagaling sa mga Liberal, na noon at ngayon, talaga naman pong marangal.

Sa panahon ng kampanyahan at eleksyon, mayroon po kayang hihigit pa sa ipinakita sa ating halimbawa ni Mar Roxas, na kayang-kayang isantabi ang personal na ambisyon para sa ikabubuti ng nakakarami; patunay na nagsisilbi sa nakakarami, parati.

Sana po ikinararangal na rin po natin, lalo na po ng ating bagong mga kasama, na sa pagiging bahagi ng Partido Liberal, mula ng ito ay binuo ni Pangulong Manuel Roxas noong 1946, marami na po tayong pinagdaanan. Marami na rin tayong tagumpay na nakamit. Ang mga karanasang ito ang nagpatibay ng ating pundasyon at paninindigang labanan ang anumang hadlang sa ating kalayaan.

Sa darating na halalan, masusubukan ng lubusan ang pundasyon ng Partido Liberal. Maaga pa lamang ay naglalabasan na ang mga batikos na kathang isip lang naman ng atin pong mga kalaban. Maaga pa lang ay mabusisi na ang mga plano nila sa kanilang mga paninira. Hindi nila maiangat ang kanilang mga sarili; ang solusyon, ipababa ang kanilang mga katunggali.

Ang pwersa ng Partido Liberal ay hindi matatalo ng anumang kasinungalingan. Ang pwersa na binubuo ng magigiting, masisipag at matatapat na pinuno ay hindi basta na lamang mabubuwag ng sinumang animo’y tapat na naglilingkod sa bayan ngunit gahaman naman pala talaga. Lalabanan natin ang kasinungalingan sa pamamagitan ng ating pananalig sa katotohanan.

Bibigyan ko kayo ng isang halimbawa. Itong mga kalaban natin, gumawa ng isang survey, gumawa ng isang kuwentong kutsero. Awa ng Diyos sila na rin po ang sumira sa kanilang kuwentong kutsero. Sabi po nila bumababa na raw ang ating lamang. Ang masakit nito, sa unang survey nilang ginawa sa isang organisasyon, hindi tayo nilagay, wala tayo sa listahan. Sa pangalawang listahan nilang ginawa, susunod na buwan, inilagay tayo sa gitna para kunyari ay talagang nag-survey sila. Nu’ng pangatlong survey nila nangibabaw na tayo, ang headline nilang inilabas, bumababa na raw ang lamang natin.

Nu’ng ako po’y nag-aaral, kapag ikaw ay nasa gitna, panlima o pang-apat, hindi ka nangunguna. Kung ikaw naman ay nanguna sa susunod, ang ibig sabihin nu’n, umangat ka, hindi ka bumaba. Kaya maraming salamat sa inyo, sinabi na nila ang katotohanan.

Aaminin ko po sa inyo, naaawa ako sa kanila. Dahil kapag nagsinungaling ka, kailangan mo ng pangalawa para suportahan ang una. Pangatlo para suportahan ang pangalawang kasinungalingan. At ang haba-haba na po ng kanilang pagsisinungaling, pati sila nahilo na. Dahil mahal po natin lahat, pati na rin sila: Sa panahong handa na silang bumalik sa landas ng tama, yayakapin po natin, dahil sila po ay Pilipinong naligaw lamang.

Talagang hindi natin matatapatan ang yaman ng ating mga katunggali. Kapag tinanong, anong kakayahan mo? “Mayaman ako,” ang sagot niya. Pero tayo naman po ay nananalig sa isang Diyos na nagsasabing gawin natin ang tama; ang kakulangan natin, Siya na po ang magpupuno.

Mula ngayon, hanggang sa araw ng eleksyon, lalo na pagkatapos nating nahalal na, importante pong tayo lalo ay magtulungan, magpakatatag, magkasunduan, para naman mapairal natin ang tunay na diwa ng demokrasya—na nagkakaloob ng kalayaan, pagkain, serbisyong pangkalusugan, edukasyon, trabaho, at lalung-lalo na, pantay-pantay na pagkakataon para sa lahat, at hindi sa iisa o iilan lamang.

Panahon na upang bigyang katuparan ang pagbabago sa tulong ng bawat isa. Ang laban na tapat ay magiging laban ng lahat. Maraming, maraming salamat po.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

A Philippines that Works: Economic Vision and Platform

Speech by Senator Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III delivered on January 21, 2010 before the members of the Makati Business Club at the Peninsula Manila Hotel, Makati City

Four-part video of the speech, courtesy of NoyTV on YouTube:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAFlybsqCjc&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV-Uyoe_eso&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnM2qrEpEes&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Andlyzn6f1A&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

A Philippines That Works Economic Vision and Platform

Officers and members of the Makati Business Club, Your Excellencies of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen, my friends and countrymen.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to address you. I trust your asking me first is not based on alphabetical order, or based on age, but perhaps, based on who you think will most likely win the coming election.

As managers, you recognize that one of the necessary skills of an effective manager is time management. Is it possible that you have invited me to determine if there is still a necessity to spend time with the others?

Baka naman inuna niyo ako upang malaman kung sapat na ako at hindi na kailangang pansinin yung iba?

I think we are all aware of the problems facing our country. We share the same statistics. We probably even share the same conclusions about the need for better governance. To rehash all of these problems at this forum would be a waste of your time. But what we have now is an opportunity for you to get to know me, to find out the advocacies that I champion, the perspective and philosophies I bring to the equation and some of my proposed solutions to give an insight into my inner persona.

Levity aside, the political exercise that we will engage in this May is a crucial one. It will be, as it is for every fledgling democracy, a test of the strength of our political institutions. The peaceful transition of power has become a symbol of political maturity across the world, with many still failing to achieve the credibility that is the cornerstone of a genuine political mandate. With the electoral scandals that have stalled our democratic progress as of late, it is not a test that we can afford to fail.

We have an administration whose mandate is clouded in doubt and overshadowed by allegations of fraud because it refused every opportunity to clear the air and be held to account. Its choices have limited its decision-making to seeking ways to ensure day-to-day political survival and self-interest. We must now become a government committed to accountability. A government that works with the people in achieving long-term change.

We must make the shift from bare economic survival to robust economic growth. We must make the change from treading water to keep afloat, to reaching that promised shore where we can all stand tall as healthy, happy, educated and responsible fellow citizens.

But why does transformation seem like such an impossible dream?

Isa sa mga tema ng ating kalaban, yung “ang pagbabago, madaling sabihin yan pero mahirap gawin,” is probably echoed by a lot of Filipinos. The oft-repeated question is, why can’t we advance? Why can’t we progress? What is it in us that limits or prohibits our growth as a people and as a country?

All of you are aware that most of the contenders have had years, possibly even decades, of preparation for this electoral exercise. I had no such ambitions to run in the 2010 elections but I responded to the people’s clamor. I am but the face of what we believe is the overwhelming demand of our people to repudiate everything wrong in the current administration.

Given that I only announced my decision to seek the presidency on September 9, and I only came to that decision the day before, I have not had material time comparable to our opponents. What is perplexing is that viewing the same problems, and having access to the same data for the most part, we believe the solutions have been there all along, and necessitate only clear political will to execute. But most of our opponents seem to indicate the contrary opinion that there is very little that we can do to change the situation. One has to wonder: did they overstudy the problem, or are they committed to preserving the status quo?

If the leader is not convinced that change is not only necessary, but extremely possible, how does he lead us to the promised land?

What is it that we want to change?

We want to repair the damage that has been wrought on our democratic institutions by those who have sought to manipulate them for their own selfish ends.

We want to improve the situation of our people, who have suffered years of neglect because of a self-absorbed leadership obsessed with political survival.

They are poor. Many of them are homeless. Each year, we add some 2.5 million mouths to feed to our already hungry population. Of these new additions, one third were the result of unplanned pregnancies. We have a growing underclass that statistics tell us have given up looking for work. A permanent underclass that includes the five million of our countrymen that are illiterate, which means their opportunities in life will always be limited to living hand-to-mouth.

We want to give our young the opportunity and means to improve their lot in life.

It can only begin if our children and their parents are assured that money spent on education is money well spent. Unfortunately, students are at the mercy of our decrepit education system that allows double shifting, erroneous textbooks and substandard nursing schools to exist. No less than DepEd officials admitted that students in Grade 1 take three subjects in one class period. We have a procurement program so heedless of the need for excellence that it doesn’t care if it produces a textbook series riddled with 500 factual errors. For every hundred kids that start grade school with the hope of achieving their dreams, only fourteen will graduate from college and possess a tangible means to materially improve their lives.

To my mind, the crucial, lacking element in all these is a government committed to a transformation: from a society overwhelmingly poor to one overwhelmingly middle class. In every developed, progressive, prosperous democracy, it is the middle class that is the biggest class. Government, for one, has failed to make the conceptual leap from patronage to development. Efforts at feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing basic care to the sick, and offering a quality education aren’t only the people’s rights; they are the essential tools for individual self-improvement.

In 1998, when I first campaigned for office, one lady bluntly told me that regardless of who is elected, things would remain the same for her.

What did she mean?

That she was poor to begin with; that she would remain poor, and in fact, she would be lucky if she didn’t end up poorer, after the candidates leave office.

This brings up the question at the forefront of the minds of our countrymen still undecided on whom to vote for, and pursued by my critics. If this is a time that calls for national transformation, am I qualified to be that transformative leader? Having answered the call of duty, can I ask you or anyone to entrust me with your vote, on faith alone? Never having sought the presidency, I preferred to do my duty and not seek the limelight. Now that I have been thrust in the limelight, it is only fair to answer the question: before you tell us what we can do, what have you done?

I have always believed that the job of an effective legislator goes beyond merely proposing laws, for what are laws but written agreements entered into by members of society on how to harmonize their mutual relations? In fact, I do not believe that we suffer from the problem of too few laws. One of my proposed measures was the recodification of laws, in response to an appeal from the legal community to put some order into our laws, their amendments and those that have been repealed, because even our lawyers are at times confused.

Consider the recent controversy over who gets to appoint the next Chief Justice. We maintain that there are no ifs and buts in Article 7 Section 15 of the Constitution where it states that the current President cannot appoint anybody within two months prior to a presidential election up to the end of her term. An exemption exists, but it applies only for positions in the Executive Department. Yet you have two retired justices arguing exactly the opposite. How can former justices of the Supreme Court be so seemingly confused, when the fact is that the provision regarding presidential appointments is stated clearly in the law?

Our problem is the lack of political will to faithfully implement the many world-class laws that our legislature has passed. A preference for ambiguity even when times call for clarity, leads to artificial controversies. Insecure or overly ambitious leaders need to create a climate of doubt, because it’s in the grey areas that its ambitions thrive.

It is in addressing this problem that I focused on the fiscalizing aspect of a legislator’s job – on Congress’ oversight and investigative functions.

Consider intelligence funds. In the proposed 2010 budget, a total of 1.4 billion was allocated to confidential and intelligence funds.

Woodrow Wilson once wrote that oversight is always preferable to investigation, which is like putting out a fire instead of preventing one. We proposed that if the Executive wants orderly transactions, at least a few members of Congress should be privy to all of the details to determine if they were spent properly. However, this proposal was dismissed out of hand without even a single hearing for the reason that they undermined the Executive’s privileges.

And yes, the investigations were a vital part of my functions, too. I don’t think anyone will begrudge me my efforts in this regard. From Hello Garci and the impeachments, to NBN-ZTE and the fertilizer scam, I did my duty at the forefront of these issues.

The original design of the NBN-ZTE project required a BOT agreement between government and the supplier, not a government loan. But during the NBN-ZTE hearings, we learned that the project was entered into through a government loan despite instructions to the contrary from no less than the President herself. The cost of the intended government loan was P40 billion, (in which P16 billion was for the backbone and P24 billion was for the CyberEd project.) Jun Lozada belied this when he cited P5 billion as the actual cost of the entire project. Ito yung sinasabi niyang kalakaran ng gobyerno, kung saan sa sobrang laki ng patong, bubukol na.

SCTEx took around 8 years to construct before it finally opened. Projects of this scale normally require two years to complete. Furthermore, when SCTEx finally became operational, it was found that the central hub, which was Clark, did not have an exit, excluding Clark from the Subic Clark Tarlac expressway itself. How can one justify these kinds of delays where opportunities are lost, costs have escalated and the people’s burdens, instead of being reduced, end up being compounded?

My active role in these congressional hearings has put me at odds with the administration. In 2005, it cost me my post as Deputy Speaker. It continues to put me at odds with the coalition of self-interest that currently holds power. It puts me at odds with other candidates for the presidency.

To lead transformation, you cannot be part of the problem. As I said when I accepted the people’s draft, the job of chief executive is about the efficient allocation of resources. If you have hogged those resources for yourself, if you have lied, cheated, and stolen to gain power, how can you be trusted to lead the transformation our country needs?

Going back on the issue of appointing a Chief Justice prior to the forthcoming elections. If we are to transform the country, it begins with doing what we can, now, to limit the damage and give our people a fighting chance to rebuild our damaged institutions. The Constitution imposes a blanket prohibition with few exceptions concerning midnight appointments. A candidate cannot ask for the people’s mandate, pledging to improve the situation tomorrow, if he becomes complicit in worsening the situation today.

Hindi naman mahirap gawin ang tama. Alam naman ng lahat yan eh. Wala namang magic, wala namang sikreto. Pero bakit pilit pa ring ginagawa ang mali?

There is a widespread perception that success in the business milieu can almost be directly correlated to your closeness to the powers-that-be. Because of this, some players in the industry are forced to focus their activities on maintaining relationships in order to retain the favors that they receive in exchange for cultivating that relationship. This has fostered the wrong kind of competitiveness. While it may work, locally, for now, it has not enabled these players to become competitive in the world market, where the rules of the game do not take special relationships into consideration.

We will encourage free and fair competition in a level playing field. One not need be a crony in order to succeed in the field of business. More importantly, government will not compete with business. Nor will government use its regulatory powers to extort, intimidate and harass.

We will transform our systems to foster service to the public instead of making citizens jump through hoops. We will streamline the approval process, not only for setting up new businesses but also in the regular day-to-day transactions with government, such as the payment of taxes. We will do this on a national as well as the local level.

In 2010, our next President will inherit a continually bloating deficit. As of November 2009, the deficit of the national government already reached P272.5 billion, or 4.1% of GDP.

In addressing the looming fiscal crisis, good governance and the drive against corruption are critical components in our strategy. We will refrain from imposing new taxes or increasing tax rates.

I strongly believe that we can collect more taxes at the BIR and higher duties at Customs if we become more serious in curbing and punishing tax evasion and smuggling. The BIR’s collection dropped by 5.5%, while that of Customs declined by 16.6%. This is the first time in recent history that absolute revenues have actually declined.

Our initial focus then will be to capture a good part of the revenue leaks caused by smuggling and evasion. In this effort, we will not be starting from zero. Be assured that those smugglers and evaders are not faceless and unknown entities. The ideas to improve tax administration and to control smuggling have been there for some time and some programs have been initiated in the past. One of these successful programs was the RATE or Run After Tax Evaders. In fact, some of the people at the Department of Finance and the BIR who have tried to implement reforms before are with us now, and together with reform-minded career executives, we intend to put their commitment and talents to good use under my administration.

My vision is to transform our country into one where we have lower tax rates enjoyed by all, rather than have some enjoy absolute tax exemptions while we burden the rest of the economy with very high tax rates. I believe that markets are better than government in spotting where the growth opportunities are, and, with universal low tax rates, we will encourage entrepreneurs and enterprises to invest and create jobs in any industry. We will, therefore, pursue the rationalization of fiscal incentives early in my administration.

There is a lot of room for our revenue base to grow. Our tax effort has gone down from 17% at its peak to a worrisome 13% today. If we can only bring this back even to just the 15% level, that will translate to P150 billion in additional revenues, which would make a significant dent in cutting our deficit.

My budget team estimates that for 2009 alone, around P280 billion of our national budget was lost to corruption. If we take the years 2002 to 2009 the total estimates exceed one trillion. Estimates vary, but everyone agrees that the numbers are huge.

If we agree that change is necessary, how can a Presidential aspirant, whose own financial and political ethics are questionable, be effective in leading transformation as the head of the bureaucracy? How can a leader, who is benefiting from the status quo, be able to restore a civic sense and pride in our citizenry? The leader, who has used public office for private gain, will always be the most committed enemy of change.

Rich or poor alike, we have a tangible experience of the sorry state of public infrastructure at present: traffic, which eats up time, which as the saying goes, is money. Railways are built at bloated cost; urban transport is constructed, but not enough trains are on track. Our people are the first to experience the effect of something that works and conversely, something that is badly done because bad intentions handicapped the project from the start.

It is time that our infrastructure agencies and LGUs transform into cooperative ventures with the private sector by bringing forth an agreed public infrastructure program, based on a cohesive plan that optimizes the value of the entire network. In our conversations with members of the private sector, there has been a lot of positive feedback about possibly working with government on this endeavor.

To transform infrastructure projects from sources of waste and scandal into examples of cooperation and efficiency, we will set objective criteria for different types of projects and develop a scorecard that will assess various projects against benchmarks transparent to the public.

Initially we want our infrastructure program to transform from being the means to enrich a few, to being labor-intensive and biased for employment as a means to pump-prime the economy.

When I read about countries that have invested in their agriculture sectors and succeeded, it always pains me to find that these countries – Vietnam and Thailand, to name just a couple – had started by sending their experts to be educated in the Philippines. It seems that we cannot implement among ourselves the lessons we successfully imparted to experts from elsewhere. This will have to change. We must be able to harness our homegrown talent in order to further our local industries.

When we change administrations, there must be a complete review of all the programs in the Department of Agriculture. We can do a lot for our farmers given the present budget of the Department if we eliminate the leaks and focus on the efficient use of resources. For example, we must stop eating up millions in mere administrative costs as in the case of NABCOR, which charged our government P60 million because it served as a useless conduit to regional offices. We will also support efforts such as supply chain management that minimizes losses, creates jobs, consults with stakeholders, and capitalizes on our competitive advantage.

Our core belief is that the current approach to governance and power must change. That is why our terms of reference always begin with the present government, what it has done, and how different our institutions and our nation must be six years from June 30, 2010.

In a small-scale operation it is easy for everyone involved to visualize that entity as the combination of their collective efforts. As opposed to, say, when you are a bigger firm, and there is the management side and there is the labor side. In Tagalog, it’s even more dramatic. Kayo at kami, sa halip na tayo.

We must find a unity that transcends the divisions of today, based on a shared commitment to transforming our country into one that works: One where traffic flows well, garbage is collected efficiently, crimes are solved, justice is served, and our kids are educated properly. It works in the sense that you do not have to flee the country to move up in the world, improve your lot in life, and rise to the highest level your personal merits can achieve.

We are a nation of sacrifice, of diligence, dedication and, idealism, because we are a people imbued with compassion even when we have officials who lie, cheat, and steal. Our faith teaches us that we are our brother’s keeper. Our logic should tell us that in taking care of others, their growth equals our own.

In the movie “Invictus,” Nelson Mandela says, “In order to rebuild our nation, we must exceed our own expectations.” It requires us to insist, always, that we are not a nation of crooks, of thieves, of murderers who get off scot-free and where justice is won by the highest bidder.

In May, you will be asked to make a choice. Will you choose transformation and change or will you choose to uphold the status quo?

We have already made our choice. Ours is a journey towards transformation. I ask you today to join us in this journey now.

Thank you.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Transcript of BSAIII's answers during the Makati Business Club open forum

Transcript of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino’s answers during the Makati Business Club (MBC) open forum, following his delivery of “A Philippines That Works: Economic Vision and Platform“, January 21, 2010

Four-part video of the open forum, courtesy of NoyTV on YouTube:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE3cdLk_JEo[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R94-wr_4c0[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6nJ8OnI-jo[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7xhhZKEzs[/youtube]

Transcript of Responses at the Makati Business Club Forum

Question: In governing you will need the cooperation of Congress, what’s your strategy for getting their cooperation particularly in a situation where you do not control either or both of the houses?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Well sir I think you will agree with me that the tradition for the past congresses has been that the dominant party becomes the party to which the President belongs to. If I’m elected president, we already have our Liberal Party, we have our allies in other aggregations and party-list groups but more importantly, the vast majority will always want to be siding with the administration, whoever it is, so cooperation with congress doesn’t seem to be a problem at this point in time as we foresee.

Question: South Africa, after apartheid, formed a Truth Commission. De Klerk, Mandela, wound up winning the Nobel Prize. In South Korea, a similar search for the truth landed … in jail. Given the sustained unpopularity and perceived excesses of the present leadership, will there be priority given by your administration if you win, to ferret out truths about the GMA years? You talk about Garcillano, you talk about Pidal, Peter Wallace and his Wallace 11, ZTE and the like of transactions. What is your administration going to do in this regard?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: The job of the Chief Executive is to enforce all of the laws; recovery of ill-gotten wealth, if it exists, is not a proscribed activity, meaning there are no time limits to it but it has to be a priority. I’ve already made a public statement that I want closure on all of these issues if elected president. That means that one of the four platforms, the top four in the agenda is judicial reform. There has to be certainty of conviction and punishment if you do commit crimes in this country.

A sad fact is that all of the cases that are filed by the prosecutors, only about 18% wind up as convictions. As you know our system says that a prosecutor, before he introduces a case, should be convinced about the validity of the case, the preponderance of evidence at present. But after having undergone that process, it only results in 18% and those are official statistics. 33% are dismissed; we lose all of these cases. Therefore, adherence to the rule of law seems to be honored more in the breach. Now so, in direct answer to your question, there have never been answers to all of the issues that you have mentioned, be it Hello Garci, be it ZTE. For instance in ZTE, there was a board meeting by the NEDA, there were clear-cut instructions on sovereign guarantees on a BOT basis. This was reversed. Those were orders of the head of NEDA and also who happens concurrently to be the head of republic. Who can supersede the orders of the president of this republic? That has to be settled. What are the loopholes that were exploited so that the NBN-ZTE deal almost became the nightmare? But fortunately the people rose up to oppose.

Again, let me reiterate, it will be one of the priorities that will happen within the first 6 months; I guess within the first month we will already be tackling all of these issues under the Department of Justice and to ferret out and move the investigation, and if so warranted, to file the necessary charges.

Question: Will you or will you not form a Truth Commission?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: In the Truth Commission, was something I’ve always been studying ever since I became a congressman the first time in 1998. I thought that the model and the idea of closure for a lot of things. One question that I wasn’t able to answer then was, as you know, in South Africa, a necessary component of availing of the privileges was to reveal everything you knew about crimes that you had committed during the apartheid regime, by both sides, which included very vivid descriptions of various tortures employed. I was asking myself, in the Philippine context, if a father were to revisit a crime committed to a child, who was tortured by government forces in the martial law years, will that not in turn, foster a new cycle of violence? I’ve never really been able to answer that question. But in terms of reviewing this past decade and the lost opportunities in what are the systemic loopholes that were exploited that got us to this point, yes, but in terms of filing charges against those who are guilty of committing crimes that I think should be left to the Department of Justice, in the very capable hands of a very active and proactive Secretary of Justice, who I will not name at this point in time lest he be persecuted for that.

Question: Over the last decade or so the Philippine economy has not done well in manufacturing, it has not come out competitive in the world, and agriculture has not developed as you mentioned the way it should, and the country has moved more and more toward being a service industry, very successfully in some cases, call centers, BPO, tourism beginning to pick up, this is an area which I think there is a great potential for the Philippines. But it requires one thing that the two other sectors don’t require, education. And the educational system in the Philippines has deteriorated dramatically and alarmingly. We only have a ten-year primary/secondary school system where everywhere else in the world has 12. as you mentioned only 14% graduate from college level. We don’t have enough classrooms, books full or errors, all the things you know. What specific things will you do to correct the situation? And where and how will you get the funds?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: There are various solutions to the problem, and first of all let me agree with you Mr. Juarez with all the things you’ve said previously. What are solutions? How much will it cost to…there is an estimated twenty to forty thousand classroom need in this country. If our main focus will be to pump prime the economy and generate employment, then we will build the schools.

Our experts tell us within a year, maximum of two years we can complete the twenty to forty thousand, even at the cost of a million per classroom, although at this point in time the average is at about 500,000, and where will we get the money? As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are so much leakages in our revenue collection efforts. The 150 billion, we can allocate a portion of the 150 billion towards meeting at least part of the 40 billion necessary, if pump-priming was the necessary goal.

On the other hand we want a more effective use of the resource, we can contract private schools. I’m made to understand that middle-tier schools have a tuition in the 5,000 to 8,000 bracket. What does that mean? For a class size of 50, that translates into Php400,000 cost per classroom of 50. When we build classrooms, the shell, the basic shell lacking, the chairs, the blackboard, electricity, the books, the teachers, etc., just the basic shell is already on average nation-wide Php500,000. So if we are to send these children, there’s an existing program using a voucher system called “Gasbi.” If we send these children to private schools but in a direct contracting basis so that there are no abuses in the system, we can save about Php100,000 per classroom. That translates into, or we can utilize that resource into supplemental feeding programs, into a better book development program, into a scholarships for college, into scholarships for teachers, benefits, so on and so forth.

So, the plan is, transform it from 10 to 12, there is a bridge program, it’s already in the books, that’s why my theme is always “there are no secrets.” The plan is a good plan, it’s already there, it’s really just a question of implementing the same. Now, I think it is unfair for our students to, to expect rather, our students to be able to absorb 12 years’ worth of education in a 10-year program, further compounded by the desire to be solving the problems by saying we have no more classroom shortages, and this was done basically by shifting. Shifting is making 2 or 3 classes utilize 1 classroom. And I would just like to emphasize because that really angers me every time I think about it. You’re a Grade 1 student, which is the entry level, in our public school system, you have a class supposedly for English, to which Science and Health have been included. So, the child who probably doesn’t understand English, is tasked to understand scientific concepts taught in English and together with health. To further compound it, as if he didn’t have enough problems, he’s given a textbook that has errors known only to the teacher, who is in possession of teacher’s notes. The Grade 1 student, I think no, by the DepEd is expected to be able to discern what is right and what is wrong at Grade 1, in a language he doesn’t understand.

Therefore the investment is a guarantee of problems down the line. People who cannot be employed think, limitations as to what we can do given the talent that is there before us. So we want to get to the 12-year program, we want to have a pre-school level where they are taught or conditioned to be able to study. And of course those textbooks will really have to be corrected and people who accepted the same and contracted for the same should be liable.

Question: Could we encourage Congress to spend its pork barrel on education?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Pork barrel will be limited to national priority programs, and of course one of them will be school-building programs.

Question: Mr. Senator, there are a couple of questions that deal with governance issues, particularly corruption, and I’d like to read them and maybe you can answer them as a whole. How will you handle the Lucio Tan cases of tax evasion and the Marcos wealth? Second, you talk about how different you will be from the present administration, what exactly will you do to make GMA, FG and all pay for their crimes? What will you do with the tong of all congressmen? There’s another one that has to do with encouraging whistle-blowers. So maybe your strategy with dealing with corruption?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Can I start with how do I deal with whistle-blowers? It’s a sad fact no, I learned this close to about 3 decades ago, if you catch somebody smuggling, you’re supposed to entitled to, I’m talking about at this point in time, to a reward of 20% when you give information to catch the smugglers. If you facilitate smuggling, I was told by my informants, you get a 10% fee. So I asked this person, why will you participate in something illegal to get 10% when you can go legal? And point the authorities towards the commission of this crime and get a double reward? And the simple answer was: the 10% is kaliwaan, I get it right away, the 20% I will get when I retire and probably 5 years after that. The explanation is you go through so many processes, the seizing, the goods, for instance, of smuggling, the appeals process, auctioning, etc., I don’t think it’s that difficult point for government to advance this reward system to make it an effective reward system, point one.

Point 2, as I keep saying, the judicial reform is so essential. We cannot have a situation where a criminal is not deterred from committing a crime basically because even if he gets to trial, he doesn’t even have a 1 in 5 chance of being convicted. It seems you are the most unlucky individual to be convicted in this country. Now we have so many leads with regards to the first family, statements of assets and liabilities are there, there are dramatic changes in the statements of various members, and obviously, there are various provisions already with our laws, unexplained wealth, is presumed to be ill-gotten. And in that situation, they are tasked to answer for that.

And at the same time, my father was a very…one of my father’s most important advocacies was human rights. Therefore I will ensure that their rights are also protected. Because again, from my father, the true test of a democracy is not your ability to defend the rights of your friends, but more importantly those of your enemies. Because if you allow one group to be oppressed, you are setting up the situation for your group to be oppressed at some point in time. So they will be afforded all of the rights, they will be given all of the opportunities to answer the charges, and like any other citizen, they will be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Now with regards to the Marcos and Lucio Tan cases, and these are subjudice, I will be entering the situation, what, at the second or third decade of litigation? One would hope that there is closure to all, even to those issues. When you go into this country, you can expect adjudication of cases to happen in a timely manner. One of the sad facts, and that’s why judicial reform, again, our stake, has to be improved, is that on average we understand that it takes 6 years to adjudicate a case. Again, it leads to, a condition where it moves everybody not to follow the laws, and that has to stop.

Question: 2 quick questions, Senator. the heart of the Cory Constitution is social justice. The phrase is not anywhere in your platform, as advertised. What are the specifics of your social justice program? And related, that is the question of what will you do June 30, 2010, we do not have a president or vice president who can be proclaimed and we wake up on July 1, 2010, GMA is still the ruler of this country in one form or another?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: I take exception to the fact that social justice is not in the platform, it is actually embodied in practically all of the 16 points of the platform that we have published on the site. For instance, we want to have the provision of opportunities for everybody to improve themselves, that’s why job generation is first in the list of priorities. What does that mean? I think a father wants best, provide me the job and I’ll take care of my children’s education and health. Education is the second factor, again empowerment, again, opportunities. If you are not educated enough, there are you know, what jobs actually can, what skills do you have, and what jobs can you acquire? Therefore, to have meaningful job generation, the educational support should be there, hence our drive for the 12-year program and even the inclusion of a nursery stage prior to the formal education program.

The ecology, the platform on ecology is very, very simple. We want to translate it so that there’s no confusion among anyone. If there are no forests, there are no watersheds. No watersheds, no water. No water, no food, no food, no people. Are you aware that we have an 8% remaining primary forest cover? But what is more criminal, is up to today, we have not delineated the forestry lines. So when you talk about preserving forests, you don’t even define what the forests is obviously, we are not preserving anything, and that is there also. I’m sorry, I’m missing the second question.

Question: The second questions asks what you will do come June 30, 2010 when we have no elected president and vice president…

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Number one, the laws on succession are very clear. But can I just tell you, instead of telling all of you our plans, people, let’s not be naive, no? There are talks that certain quarters want to exploit that situation. There are talks of failure of elections or non-proclamation, no-el, so on and so forth. Now, does it behoove me to reveal publicly the plans that we are contemplating at this point in time, and to make our job of preserving this democracy harder by telling our enemies precisely what we will do. I think I will leave my plans close guarded at this point in time and we assure you we are not babes in the woods, and we are ready, as much as possible, we are getting all the necessary info, intelligence and alliances in place, to forestall the grabbing of power by people with purely vested self-interest.

Can I just add, sorry, this has to be really laid in the minds of everybody. We in the Liberal Party say that we are espousing platform-based, issue-based politics. And I am very, very confident that even if I were not in the seat, this occupation is fraught with dangers. I have in the person of my partner, Mar Roxas, somebody who is exactly of like mind, somebody who will pick up if I am unable to finish the job. Therefore, we can assure everybody that will join us, there is a continuity of expectations that are realistic. This is not person-based.

Question: That highlights a weakness in the political system in the Philippines. When we elect you, we don’t automatically elect Sen. Roxas because you’re voted for independently—so it has to be as a team. In the papers recently there was a two-page ad put in by the government claiming all kinds of things: that this president has achieved. It has numerous faults in it. One of the things is that they are very proud of the fact that this economy had been stimulated and helped by the OFWs and their remittances to the Philippines. Those OFWs are Filipinos who have had to leave their families. So society has been hurt badly by it. It’s in fact an economic failure. A failure of government to provide the jobs that they should have had here. What would you do to reverse the situation, to be able to provide the jobs here for Filipinos instead of overseas?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino:: Well, number one, I think I will be lying if I told you that we will have comparable jobs within six years. That I think is an impossibility. But there is I think an obtainable objective of having compensation for people who have skills that have been improved. We can get it to a certain level whereby the increase in wages—although not the same as working abroad—together with the family being in tact, and together with the idea of being a first-class citizen in your own country will be enough to win people away from seeking the greener pasture elsewhere. We believe that the people who have left and who are opting to leave, primarily have no choice. They are political refugees, they are being forced, not for improvement—where it was 20 years ago—but rather even just for survival. And again you’re right. The opportunities have to exist here. Now, when I go around the country, when I go around Metro Manila, the opportunities are so abundant, and all it takes is to do the right thing. For instance, in Surigao City, the table you’re using right now was about the length of this fish—I don’t know what breed of fish that was. But that particular stall in the public market in Surigao City had three of it. The next stall had five of the same size. And the Media asked me in that point in time—this was the senatorial campaign—”Can you raise it up for a photo op?” And of course I’m very macho, and I proceeded to raise it by the head. And the only thing I raised was the head. It was that heavy. And I was saying: “How much would it cost to set up a blast freezing facility here? How much would it cost to turn these things into steaks, train the people to marinate it into that, and export it to countries like Japan or elsewhere, where they’d be thanking us for sharing the bounty … ” Mar Roxas’s home province of Capiz, you go to the beach at low tide, you have a rake, you rake the sand, you get clams. In Metro Manila you get [the fry] of the clams. Why can’t we even get it from Capiz to Metro Manila?

I’m sorry, sometimes I can’t stop, because really, the absurdity, the simplicity of the solutions that are not being implemented really gets to me. The fertilizer scam: The greatest sin is 723 million pesos at least could have started a chain of improving productivity. And for those of you who are not aware, when you plant rice in irrigated lands—and that was the hybrid rice program, that was the fertilizer input program —you can double to quadruple your income for our farmers, especially if it’s irrigated. You can have five harvests in two years. But this current government made the program in 2004 and really turned it into a disaster. We had ten cropping cycles that we lost an opportunity in. But the biggest sin is that even in investigating this alleged crime took four years. That’s why I said ten harvests were lost. So, again, from Masagana ’99 we had a hundred kabans per hectare. Commercially we are already now growing 240 to 320 kabans per hectare. I am told, but I’m still validating this, that UPLB and IRRI are even working further than that. And again: a true fertilizer input program, adequate monitoring, serious credit facilities, can undoubtedly at least make us self-sufficient in rice. We teach agriculturists worldwide. At the end of the day, we import food. That has to stop also.

Question: I think you will welcome this next question. It says: do you already have enough money for the campaign?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: I will be lying if I tell you we have enough money. But, there is adequate … but of course, it makes the process that much simpler. Can I just share with you this bit of information that was given to me yesterday? I understand there was a tsinoy who went to our headquarters in EDSA the other day. He proceeds to donate a certain amount of money, I was not told how much, but he had a simple request. I’ll say it Tagalog cause it really was… I really made my day that day. He said: “Ito yung pera, bumili kayo ng commercial niyo. Naiinis na ko dito sa isang ‘to.” That by the way is not a joke. It really did happen. At some point in time we will have to report that contribution to Comelec. We’ll have all the details then. But it really made my day.

Question: Two quick questions again, Mr Senator. What will be the roles of your sister Kris and your uncle Peping if you become president? Can you give us a specifically categorical answer on your stand on the Reproductive Health Bill?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kris I think will still be my fashion adviser, which means if she does not like what I’m wearing, she will not keep quiet. I think she even had this barong made. So if she complains I’ll tell her you’re the one who designed it. And that will be the extent. Most of my sisters, and Kris included—Kris is a very busy individual … Anything I ask her, I ask her to attend some ribbon-cutting thing if I become president, that will be an imposition on her time. The three are eagerly looking forward to regaining their anonymity. In fact I’m not even sure if I celebrate my birthday, in the period of incumbency, that they will be present, since it will be a Media event. The role of my Tito Peping: I would be foolish not to seek his wisdom, because of his experience; but at the same time, I will be the one holding the fort. The buck really has to stop with me. I am responsible ultimately for all my actions. Therefore any or all of my decisions will be based on discussion with all the stakeholders as much as possible, but in the end of the day it will be something I can live with in conscience, in what I believe is right regardless on who propounded it.

On reproductive health: Of course, somehow, the secretariat at the senate made it appear that I was an author of the Reproductive Heath Bill. Unfortunately I never authored such a bill. And I intend to interpolate the proposed version before us. The portion that I want to interpolate on is: In government when you have a budget, you don’t use it, you lose it. And there will be provisions of the reproductive health for artificial means of family control. And I want provisions that will ensure that if government hospitals—by cunning, by deceit, by misinformation, etc, are able to expend these budgetary items so that they are replenished, then there’d be penal sanctions for the same.

My position is more properly called Responsible Parenthood; and basically it says, “The state has an obligation to remind parents each child you bring into this world carries with it a certain set of responsibilities: to clothe, to shelter, to educate, etc. That is the extent of what the state should do. So there will be educational programs, campaigns, seminars, symposia, to which we will invite all of the churches to put in their two-cents worth. At the end of the day, the state, in preserving the family, mandated by the constitution has to remind everybody that they will and that they should have these set of responsibilities. The state cannot force as to size, the state cannot force as to method. Now, in fact we will oppose any attempt to do so, because a democratic state has to proceed from individual freedoms.

Question: President Arroyo has intervened in a number of industries: power, oil, cement, pharmaceuticals, food—particularly, sensitively, rice. In state of belief, it was necessary to give people relief from otherwise excessive prices. What would be your policy and action?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Mrs Arroyo when she was my professor said that there should be minimal government intervention (Questioner: “She’s got a poor memory …”), because distortions are created in the marketplace. But then again, given that … you know, it proceeds from a governance of survival there’s no logic used except “will it help me retain power or not?” Therefore every decision is faulted from the onset because of that perception. We are hoping that we will get our mandate clear: clear and clearly won, therefore we will have the confidence to embark and ask our people. At this point in time we will have to sacrifice by X amount to get to this level. We want to be transparent in all of the dealings. At the end of the day I assume, god willing we have an intervention for instance in agriculture. You had that 723 million debt really bought fertilizers that were correct. That were delivered at a timely manner at an appropriate price. And perhaps even the, as I mentioned, the purchasing aspect of it be reformed. Things will work out on themselves because we made the right decisions on every aspect. When I pass EDSA, and I guess everybody who passes … can I just a question? When was the last time you remember EDSA as being a smoothly paved road? And this is the premiere road of our National Capital Region. I think most of you will say Highway 54, those who are honest. But when we export our construction companies, our engineers, our designers elsewhere, hindi ba world class? How many of you are aware that in this recent tragedy in Haiti, there were so many Filipinos in a professional basis. And I was surprised that even in Bermuda, the same situation holds: Accountants, lawyers, etc. I always assumed that Bermuda, beneficiary of the British Civil Service System, would have a very efficient bureaucracy, and an efficient professional corps. But it turns out it is again it’s again another area for Filipino expertise to shine. So again, they can do it there, undoubtably they can do it better here, so long as the milieu is present that opportunities for everybody are extant. Nobody is excluded, hence our phrase is “Walang iwanan at walang maiiwan.”

Question: I was told that we have to wind this up after two final questions, that I’d like to read. One is: “How will you handle the issue of pagbabago the Filipino people dreamt and longed for” and “as a transformational president, what key qualities would you bring to this task?”

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Well, number one, you will have to lead by example. I think in fairness to my mother, at the onset of her term she inherited a government that was corrupt top to bottom, for the most part because the top set the example. Something as cop on the street who was being bribed for a minor traffic violation: he used to demand for his bribe. At the onset of my mom’s term, the phrase was, “Teka, hindi ko hinihingi yan a. Binibigay mo yan, pinipilit mo.” There was a recognition that that was wrong. And after that, something as simple as … I complain about traffic, and Mar in I already have an agreement. If we win, and if traffic isn’t solved, we’ll participate in the traffic. We will not ask of anybody that which we are not ready to do ourselves first. Hopefully we will not talk as much, because we are trying to put a spin on something that is indefensible. And siguro the biggest ambition is in the fourth year, it will just be Mar and I talking because everything is working and it’s boring.

Sana po ay hindi na naming kailangan tutukan minut-minuto, dahil nga maayos na ang systema. E ngayon palang ho nagiipon na kami ng mga kwento just in case magkatotoo po yan. Diba? Lahat naman ng magulo sa mundo nating to ay dahil nga yung systema, hinayaan na kung saan interes ng isang tao, isang grupo lang ang importante. Yun ang gusto naming baguhin.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Transcript of interview of BSAIII by Anthony Taberna, Umagang Kay Ganda

Transcript of interview of Senator Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III by Anthony Taberna, Umagang Kay Ganda, January 26, 2010

Transcript of Interview by Anthony Taberna at Umagang Kay Ganda

Anthony Taberna: Senator, isa po sa mga katunggali ninyo ay may commercial na natatandaan na po ng mga bata, eto po at itatanong ko sa inyo, kayo po ba ay nakaligo na sa dagat ng basura?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Hindi pa ho yata.

Anthony Taberna: Nag-pasko na ho ba kayo sa gitna ng kalsada?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Meron din ho yata nun, lalong lalo na po after Malacanang eh’, dipende ho kung saan aabutan. Pero ang nanay ko ho kasi talagang importante iyong Christmas eve na magkakasama kami, nung mag-asawa yung mga kapatid ko hanggang alas-diyes, so kadalasan ho kasama ho yung mga neighbors dun sa Times po.

Anthony Taberna: Naniniwala po ba kayo na para makatulong ang isang kandidato o kaya ay naghahangad maging Pangulo sa mga mahihirap ay kailangan ngang maging mahirap?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Palagay ko ho mas importante naranasan ninyo yung naranasan nila, pag sinasabi sa bansa natin yung mahirap, sinasabi katarungan, hindi nga nabibigyan ng adequate na abogado, hindi nasusulong yung kaso, hindi naipapakita yung kanilang punto. Kami po ay dumaan sa panahon ng martial law, yung nag-accuse po sa tatay ko si Marcos, yung may tangan po dun sa mga opisyales ng militar na humusga sa kanya si Marcos, yung magre-reveal nung kaso si Marcos, eh’ talagang talo pa po yung kangaroo court. Talagang wala ka ng kalaban-laban, marami naman po kaming dinaanan na kami rin po ay naapi, so alam po natin kung ano yung nadarama ng mga naapi, so palagay ko naman ho ayaw nating maulit yung pang-aapi kaya naman tayo ay may supisyenteng eksperyensa na para labanan yung pang-aapi.

Anthony Taberna: Pero yung pong sinasabi nilang kailangan mo munang dumaan sa pagiging gutom para malaman mo kung gaano kahirap ang maging gutom, kailangan mo munang… didiretsuhin ko na po, si Sen. Manny Villar, kailangan daw pong dumaan ka sa pagiging tindero ng hipon sa palengke para po malaman mo kung ano ang nararamdaman ng mga tindero, ganoon po ba yun?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Palagay ko naman ho lahat tayo hindi naka-inom ng lason pero alam natin na nakakamatay ang lason, wala hong may eksperiyensa na ang pag-inom po nung lason ay nabuhay, yun pong sinasabi niyang kuwento. Puwede namang dumaan ka doon mali naman yung leksiyon eh’ di wala rin hong silbi, ang point ko lang ho dito, when you are poor and you have so much of one thing for so many things, yung that is something that, yung people who have been deprived of whatever can also matter, can also be passionate about striving to changes.

Anthony Taberna: Kayo po ay may mga pinapalabas naring mga TV advertisements, magkaano na ho ang inyong ginagastos?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kailangan ko hong i-check dun sa ating accountant, hindi ho ako binibigyan ng running total, pero malayo ho dun sa mga katunggali natin, siguradong-sigurado po yun.

Anthony Taberna: Kamusta ho ang pagdating ng tulong pinansiyal pagdating po sa politika para sa parating na halalan?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Maganda naman po, lalo na po nag-umpisa kami ng wala dahil hindi naman po ako nag-planong tumakbo, supisyente naman po para mapondohan yung ating mga sorties, yung mga political ads natin at tsaka maitulong dun sa mga volunteers natin.

Anthony Taberna: Magastos po yan ano, ang sabi po doon sa inyong TV ad, hindi po kayo magnanakaw, mayroon po ba kayong pinatatamaan doon?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Mayroon po mga naku-kuwestiyon kung saan nga po napunta yung pondo ano, more than anything nga po ang hina-highlight natin dun, tayo naman po ay nanggaling na ng Malakanyang, tayo naman po ay nanging opisyales sa gobyernong ito hindi naman natin inaabuso yung kapangyarihan na naipag-kaloob sa atin at sa pagkakataon. Noong panahon na ang nanay ko po ang Presidente at ang tawag po sa akin ng mga kabarkada ko ay “tanga”. Nung tinanong ko po paano naging “tanga” dahil naka-deans list naman ho ako kahit papaano, eh’ ang sagot ho eh’, may pagkakataon kaming kumita, tumiba-tiba eh’ hindi raw namin sinamantala kaya raw po kami “tanga’, ganoon na nga lang po eh’ di’ thank you.

Anthony Taberna: Pero dito po sa kasalukuyang bakbakan sa pagka-Pangulo, nung sinabi po ninyong hindi ako magnanakaw, magandang-maganda po ang dating nun, ang kahulugan po ba nito, yung ibang mga kandidato ay maaaring magnakaw o nagnanakaw.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Tandaan po ninyo ang focus po namin ay ang kasalukuyang pamamahala, balikan po natin yung ZTE, yung ZTE po ayon sa board meeting ng NEDA P5 milyon dapat ang nagastusan dun sa backbone ng ZyberEd. Yun pong tinatawag ni Jun Lozada na “tong-pats” ang tinatantiya ay mga P14 billion, so P5 billion lang talaga yung proyekto yung paghahati-hatian nila P35 billion, hindi ho ba pagnanakaw yun? Yung pagde-deprive ng mga puwedeng naging eskuwelahan, ospital, kalsada, kuryente sa mamamayan. Imbes na kumuha na lamang ng kapiraso ng P5 million, naging importante yung dinagdag na times seven ho bale ang dagdag.

Anthony Taberna: kayo po ay hindi magnanakaw, kami po ay maniniwala doon sa inyong pangako na iyon, pero paano po iyung mga nakapaligid sa inyo?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kapag yung nasa itaas po ay magli-lead by example, kakabahan naman po maski papaano yung nasa ibaba at mayroon kayong moral superiority para habulin lahat ng hindi susunod. Pero minumungkahi po namin na hindi lamang lalabanan ang korapsiyon, pero bigyan naman natin ng pagkakataon yung matino na manatiling matino, Presidente po ng Republika P50,000 po ang suweldo, gross, ang pinapangasiwaang budget ay P1.5 trillion, baka mayroong matukso ho diyan kapag hindi maisagot ho yung tuition ng anak. Kailangan pong gayahin natin tulad ng Singapore na kung saan mataas-taas yung porsiyento ng private sector counterpart, sa Pilipinas po entry level pantay, pag na-promote na yung private sector ang layo na po ng agwat, so paano kapag ganoon na kataas yung super levy, sa ma mababa, mas mababa po talaga, medaling tuksuhin, kaya kailangan din po nating itaas ang antas na yun para makayanang labanan yung tukso.

Anthony Taberna: Lahat po ng mga kasama ninyo ngayon, mga sumusuporta, mga pulitiko na lumapit po sa inyo at sumakay sa Liberal Party ay dumaan po sa pagsala para matiyak na, oh’ eto ay talagang hindi rin mangnanakaw.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: As much as possible po, pero pati naman pos a Bibliya ano, si Kristo nagsalita ng “those who have no sin cast the first stone”, sasabihin ko ho ba kami lahat dito ay Santo maski paanong husgahan, baka mayroon din yung may kasalanan, pero ang point ho nun, nanigurado kami na walang major na kasalanan. Wala naman pong perpektong tao.

Anthony Taberna: Nangangamba po ang iba Senator na baka po kayo ay diktahan ng civil society na nag-upo rin noon kay Pangulong Arroyo matapos maalis si Erap pero iniwanan din po lumaon ito pong si Pangulong Arroyo, hindi daw po kaya ganito rin ang sapitin ninyo sa kanilang mga kamay?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Dapat po kasi open, mayroon akong idea, mayroong idea yung aking katunggali na baka pinagsama natin yan mas maganda yung produkto, at same time sa dulo po nito yung Pangulo ang may responsibilidad sa lahat ng desisyon na gagawin niya, so ako naman po kapag naharap ko yung magulang ko masabi ko sa kanilang tama yung ginawa ko, para masabi ko ho yun, hindi ako puwedeng diktahan nino man, pati nanay ko po. With all due respect to my mother may mga panahon na nagtalo din po kami sa ibang desisyon, at one point in time siya ho ay tutol sa death penalty, ako ho ay may pananaw na yung talagang paulit-ulit na heinous crimes ang ginagamit ay may karapatan ang lipunan na proteksiyunan ang sarili niya, later on medyo nag-rethink nitong posisyon na ito, nakita ko yung justice system natin na kung saan yung public attorney’s office sobrang dami ng kasong hinahawakan, hindi nga po nabibigyan ng kaukulang pansin na masinsinan yung mga naaakusahan ng krimen, so hangga’t hindi natin maiaayos yun, masigurado na mapangalagaan yung mga karapatan nila. Baka nga may mapapahamak pag mayroon tayong death penalty na hindi naman pala dapat parusahan.

Anthony Taberna: So kayo po ba ay papayag na madiktahan ng sinoman sa inyo pong pagpapasiya?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Ang reputasyon ko ho eh’ matigas ang ulo, so yun bang pati nung nasa House, dun sa mga kasamahan ko doon na nakasabay ko doon, mayroong sinasabi na ito ay majority decision, ako po ay hindi automatic na sumasama dun sa majority decision, eto ba kaya kong panindigan na desisyon o hindi, kapag hindi ko kayang panindigan hindi ho ako sumasama sa kanila.

Anthony Taberna: Tutukuyin ko na po, isa sa grupo na malapit na malapit sa inyo ngayon ay yung kontrobersiyal na law firm na kung tawagin ay The Firm, ito po ay malaking papel sa administrasyong Arroyo mula po nung Day 1 at in fact naging abogado pa po sila sa marami ilang kaso ng katiwalian ng administrasyon ng Pangulong Arroyo si First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, ano po ang sagot ninyo doon sa mga obserbasyon nab aka kayo ay paikutan lamang ng mga ito?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kung puwede ho nilang subukan, pero isa lang po ang kasama namin dun sa The Firm, si Nonong Cruz, dating kalihim ng tanggulang pambansa, yung lahat ng kasama ko ngayon, siguro kung kakilala nila ako, isama na ninyo yung mga ka-klase ko nung grade school, high school at college. Hindi ako puwedeng dinadala kung saan saan lang, sa palagay ko hindi tama, yung Lolo ko po nung high school ako ang sabi ay talagang napaka-importante na may barkada ka pero huwag kang nagpapadala, huwag kang kaladkarin, kailangan ikaw ang lider. Paulit-ulit ho sila ng ganoon, so again, lahat ho ng desisyon ko at the end of the day, kailangan kaya kong panindigan.

Anthony Taberna: Kagabi po medyo napuyat kayo sa pagtalakay sa C-5 controversy, senator isang diretsang tanong, puwede po ba kayong mag-inhibit na lamang doon po sa pagsisiyasat na ito para po mawala na yung pangangatwiran na kayo ay namumulitika lamang ditto sa isyu laban kay Sen. Villar?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Ang problema ho yung numero namin sa Senado, kasi ho kami ay 23 total, isa yung naka-kulong, 11-11 na nga ho ang puwedeng mangyari, walang desisyon, kailangan ma-resolve yung issue, kung hindi na ho kailangan yung partisipasyon ko pero maaaring na-resolve yung issue one way or the other baka puwede po nating pag-isipan yan. Pero uulitin ko po kung namumulitika ako ho dito, si Senator Alan Cayetano at si Gilbert Remulla mismo ang magpapatunay na umpisa-umpisa pa lamang ho at hanggang sa mga araw na ito, nakiki-usap ako kay Senator Villar, pumunta ka dito kung talagang wala kang kasalanan mapapakita mo yan, mabigyan ka ng karapatan mo na magkaroon ng proseso, kung saan puwede mong ipagtanggol yung sarili mo.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

56 electoral protests filed before House tribunal

56 electoral protests filed before House tribunal
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 56 cases of electoral protest have been filed against members of the House of Representatives who won in the first automated elections last May 10, records at House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) showed.

The cases were lodged before the body even before the 15th Congress formally opens on July 26.

Among the lawmakers facing cases are Ilocos Norte Representative and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Leyte Representative and television host Lucy Torres-Gomez, Pangasinan Representative Leopoldo Bataoil, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas, Laguna Representative Justin Marc Chipeco, Quezon City Representative Jorge Banal and Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Teodoro Casino and Neri Colmenares.

The case against Marcos was filed by her defeated opponent, Mariano Nalupta Jr., and his lawyer Ferdinand Ignacio, for not fulfilling the residency requirement.

Eufrocino Codilla Jr., son of the incumbent congressman, filed the case against Gomez, while Bataoil is facing a protest against Maria Blanca Kim Lokin, a former partylist representative of the Citizens Battle Against Corruption.

Incumbent Quezon City Representative Matias Defensor filed the case against Banal, while former mayor Reynolan Sales lodged the case against Farinas.

The group Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc. filed cases against partylist groups Bayan Muna and An Waray. Bayan Muna is facing another protest case from former congressman and retired military general Jovito Palparan Jr.

Other members of the House with pending election protests filed against them are Representatives Herminia Roman (Bataan), Eufranio Eriguel (La Union), Randolph Ting (Cagayan), Wilfredo Enverga (Quezon), Monique Yazmin Lagdameo (Makati City), Edwin Olivares (Paranaque), Rosenda Ocampo (Manila), Anna Christina Go (Isabela), Jesus Emmanuel Paras (Bukidnon), Fernando Gonzales (Albay), Rogelio Espina (Biliran);

Mary Mitzi Cajayon (Caloocan City), Isidro Ungab (Davao City), Salvio Fortuno (Camarines Sur), Bai Sandra Sema (Maguindanao), Marie Jocelyn Bernos (Abra), Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes), Victorino Dennis Socrates (Palawan), Milagrosa Tan (Western Samar), Antonio Rafael Del Rosario (Davao del Norte) , Nelson Collantes (Batangas), Emil Ong (Northern Samar), Tomas Apacible (Batangas), Aurelio Gonzalez Jr. (Pampanga);

Joselito Andrew Mendoza (Bulacan), Elmer Panotes (Camarines Norte), Renato Unico (Camarines Norte), Jerry Trenas (Iloilo), Mylene Garcia (Davao City), Tupay Loong (Sulu), Nur-ana Sahidulla (Sulu), Francisco Matugas (Suriogao del Norte), Maximo Dalog (Mt. Province), Lord Allan Jay Velasco (Marinduque), and Pangalian Balindong (Lanao del Sur).
Outgoing Speaker Prospero Nograles said the number of cases lodged appear to have exceeded those filed at the start of the 14th Congress.

The HRET is composed of nine members, three of whom are justices of the Supreme Court who are assigned to the tribunal by the chief justice; the remaining six are the members of the House of Representatives chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system.

Kris Aquino, Boy Abunda back Joey de Venecia

Kris Aquino, Boy Abunda back Joey de Venecia
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Two of the country’s biggest show biz personalities—Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda—have endorsed the senatorial bid of Joey de Venecia III.

The endorsement came in front of hundreds of thousands who attended at the Bangus Festival in Dagupan City where Aquino and Abunda praised De Venecia for his “courageous battle against corruption and poverty.” The two also asked their fans to vote for the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino candidate.

The son and namesake of former Speaker Jose de Venecia thanked the pair, whom he admired “not only for their show biz savvy, but also for their business acumen.” Besides being prized talents of ABS-CBN, Aquino and Abunda are also among the top product endorsers in the country.

Same goal

“Kris, Boy and I have the same goal of trying to uplift the lives of our countrymen, especially the poor,” De Venecia said in a press statement. Kris Aquino is the younger sister of Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

De Venecia said wholesome entertainment figures like Aquino and Abunda play a large role in national development. “They serve as role models for their millions of fans.”

The De Venecia family has solid connections in local show business, with the former Speaker’s wife Gina being a member of the Vera Perez clan of Sampaguita Pictures.

TUCP backing

The backing of Aquino and Abunda came on the heels of the endorsement of De Venecia by the country’s largest labor organization, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

De Venecia said the TUCP endorsement and that of Aquino and Abunda has boosted his candidacy.

In response to the TUCP endorsement, De Venecia said he would redouble his efforts to encourage more investment in the local IT sector and to push legislation that would ensure more frequent minimum wage hikes to reflect the higher cost of living.

“Being the country’s largest labor organization, the TUCP endorsement will go a long way,” De Venecia said.

The TUCP announced this week that it was supporting De Venecia because of his pro-worker stand and goal of producing millions of new jobs through IT.

SC tells Comelec: Bare all preparations for May 10 polls

SC tells Comelec: Bare all preparations for May 10 polls
By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Citing “alarming developments” concerning the reliability of the automated elections system, including the glitches that have developed in the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines’ software, the Supreme Court Thursday ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make public the complete details of its preparations for Monday’s polls.

Voting 12 to 3, the high court directed the Comelec to disclose to the public “the nature and security of all equipment devices such as software and hardware components; the source code for review by interested parties; the terms and protocols of the random manual audit; the certification from the technical evaluation committee that the entire automated system is fully functional and continuity plan is already in place; and the certification protocol and the actual certification issued by the Department of Science and Technology that the 240,000 Board of Election Inspectors all over the country are trained to used the automated election system”.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, said the Comelec must comply with the requirements that are provided for under Republic Act 9369, or the Amended Automated Elections System Law of 2007.

Civil action

The high court was acting on a special civil action for mandamus filed last April 23 by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., Protestant Bishop Leo Soriano Jr., Quintin Doromal, Fe Maria Arriola, Isagani Serrano and Rodolfo Lozada Jr.

The justices said they were granting only the specific reliefs asked for in the petition because of the proximity of the elections. The petitioners can press the Comelec for other reliefs after the May 10 polls, they said.

The resolution cited news reports on Tuesday that with just six days to go before the May 10 elections, the Comelec has recalled 76,000 compact flash cards because of the widespread failure of the PCOS machines to read and tally votes during the testing conducted by the Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp., the systems supplier.

In its comment submitted on May 4, the Comelec said the petitioners had no legal standing to file the petition and that there was no proof that they had requested the release of the information contained in the documents mentioned in their petition.

The justices said the petitions had “overwhelming support” in the Constitution, citing in particular the provisions on the right to information and the state’s corresponding duty of full disclosure of all transactions involving public interest.

The court also cited the provisions in the Omnibus Election Code, requiring the Comelec to carry out a continuing and systematic campaign to educate the public about elections laws, procedures, decisions and other matters related to its duties; the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards, which mandates all public documents to be made accessible to, and readily available for inspection, by the public; and the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 9525 (which appropriated P11.3 billion for the automated election), that required transparency in the procurement process and in the implementation of procurement contracts.

Democracy’s last bulwark

“[The] Comelec cannot shirk its constitutional duty to disclose fully to the public complete details of all information relating to its preparations for the May 10, 2010 elections without violating the Constitution and relevant laws. No less than the Constitution mandates it to enforce and administer election laws. The Comelec chair and the six commissioners are beholden and accountable to the people they have sworn to serve,” it said.

Calling itself “the last bulwark of democracy in this country,” the high court said it would spare nothing to ensure that the people’s right to information on matters affecting democratic processes is “fully guaranteed, protected and implemented”.

Concurring with the resolution were Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Associate Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales, Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Portugal Perez and Jose Mendoza.

Dissenting were Associate Justices Renato Corona, Roberto Abad and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III : What’s important is I see problem and solve it

ELECTIONS 2010: THE ONE, THE ONLY
BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III : What’s important is I see problem and solve it
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(Editor’s Note: The presidential profiles will be running in no particular order but as the stories come in from our reporters in the field.)

(Eighth of a series)

MANILA, Philippines—He looked more like a cockfighter’s kristo—a bet caller —than a presidential candidate as he waved a fistful of paper notes with one hand and held up the back of his sliding Paddock’s jeans with the other in a late-night rally in Zamboanga City whose size could rival that of an Eraserheads’ reunion concert.

With his thinning hair, stooped shoulders and awkward gait, Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III could not care less about his looks in a campaign where he faces the most expensive political bid ever mounted in the Philippines and one of the most vicious personal attacks against a presidential candidate in history.

In the course of the 90-day campaign, Aquino has proven that looks, and a person’s biodata, can be deceiving.

Put down by his critics at the start of the campaign as “walang alam”—a know-nothing—just like his late widowed mother who dared to challenge a brilliant but ruthless dictator in 1986, the 50-year-old Aquino has surprised a lot of his cynics with his self-confidence, keen grasp of major issues, and his diligence in doing his homework before facing the media and other organizations.

His opponents claimed that he would be unmasked in the presidential debates, but Aquino appeared intelligent, well-prepared and poised in these forums and was never the one to pass up on answering a thorny issue such as the Hacienda Luisita case and doubts on his state of mental health. He was modest, warm, folksy and appreciative when meeting people in motorcades and town rallies far from the cold and snotty hacendero he was pictured to be by his foes.

“He has grown before our eyes in the campaign and proved himself worthy as our next president. I never saw this side of Noy before, because he always looked ordinary to me being the son of a martyr and democracy’s saint,” said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, an adviser to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a strategist of the administration candidate Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro until a month ago, and a classmate of Aquino at Ateneo de Manila University.

“He has earned and gained a stature that is his own and has shown his mettle under pressure and amidst criticisms from his opponents. It was actually there all along and I have seen it up close, but I guess it’s only now that he is given the opportunity to show it to people other than his close friends,” said Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who backed out of the presidential race and has openly campaigned for Aquino’s election.

Trustworthy

Ramon del Rosario Jr., chair of the Makati Business Club, was surprised at how Aquino had weathered all the challenges in the campaign and remained as the leading candidate heading into the elections.

“I first met Noy in 1986 and I think he demonstrated throughout the campaign his leadership qualities, honesty, maturity, consistency and to take principled positions. He will be a strong, trustworthy president,” Del Rosario said.

Aquino admitted having reached a new level of maturity since he took on the family’s virtual franchise as this country’s savior.

“I’ve grown up in the sense that I gained more knowledge of so many things. I have clearly witnessed the strengths and weaknesses I have and the limits I can go to. Plus, all the principles I have, have been put to the test,” he said in an interview at a seafront rest house in Bacacay, Albay.

Still, Aquino insisted that he was just being himself throughout the campaign. “I just did not get that much exposure when I was in the House and the Senate. I have become perhaps more polished but the fundamentals have always been there. My focus is not self-aggrandizement but to go for results to correct what is wrong,” he said.

When asked why it took his mother’s death for him to come out of his cocoon, Aquino replied: “Is being on the center stage important? What is important to me is that I see the problem and I solve it and improve the situation of the people. Whoever ends up being the hero is just secondary to the strategy.”

Behind the scenes

Aquino explained that he had always worked behind the scenes since he was suddenly thrust into politics with the declaration of martial law and the arrest of his father, former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. He said he did not feel any need to draw attention to himself because his parents were still there.

His family might not have been poor, but Aquino said he also knew how it felt to suffer, especially with the tragedy that befell his family. He opened up to the public how it felt as a 12-year-old to suddenly become the man of the house and take care of his mother and four sisters, Ballsy (Maria Elena), Pinky (Aurora Corazon), Viel (Victoria Eliza) and Kris (Kristina Bernadette); the feeling of helplessness at seeing his family humiliated by soldiers and his father imprisoned for seven years and seven months; his anger at the people who treated his assassinated father like frozen meat; and the pain of seeing his mother go through a fatal illness.

His rivals have criticized him for authoring zero laws in his 12 years as a lawmaker (nine years as representative and three years as senator) and working only for companies either owned by his family (Intra-Strata Assurance Corp. and Central Azucarera de Tarlac) or were run by friends of his parents (Nike distributor Mondragon Philippines).

But what the public did not know was Aquino’s role in his mother’s administration, when, as a 26-year-old, he became the confidante of his mother who was learning on the job how to fend off coup plotters, opportunists and backstabbers in the Palace.

Aide to his mother

Aquino was hands-on in managing the security of his mother, especially after he took five bullets in one of the military uprisings staged by then Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan just 18 months into his mother’s term (this event fueled his fascination for guns and military hardware).

President Aquino constantly turned to her son for his personal take on policy reforms and proposed deals which was why he has become adept in doing research on his own, a trait he would carry in the elections.

“Whenever my mother wanted a background check on someone or some project, he went to me for help. There are only a few people she trusted during those days and as his only son, it was my duty to protect her and I did,” Senator Aquino said.

The campaign period showed how meticulous and precise Aquino was in preparing for his speeches, debates and campaign rallies. Over the last eight months, Aquino said he had spent his free time and rest days soaking up on issues.

He does not go for off-the-cuff remarks, he thinks deeply before answering any question. He rarely answers with a yes or a no as he makes sure that the audience gets his answer in the proper context.

Not a dictator

Closure is the byword of Aquino in his reply to what he would do in his first 100 days. “They call us bengatibo (vengeful), but isn’t that a way of admitting that they have done wrong? But again, we will give them what they have not given us—due process. I might have my opinion of them but it does not mean it will be the law. I will not be a dictator,” said Aquino, who plans to put up a special commission on his first day in office that would investigate all unfinished probes on corrupt deals under the Arroyo administration.

His campaign slogan is “Walang Mahirap, Kung Walang corrupt”—there’s no poor where there is no one corrupt—and he plans to achieve that in two ways—punish the guilty and reward the bureaucrats with a handsome pay.

Aquino said the only way to instill fear among corrupt officials was to ensure that justice would be swift, certain and painful by improving the conviction rate of government prosecutors, landing a big fish in jail.

But a stick would not work without a carrot as Aquino noted the absurdity of a P50,000-a-month president presiding over a P1.5-trillion annual budget. “What we want is to lead government officials away from temptation because the pay scale they have right now practically guarantees that they will be corrupt,” he said.

Oxygen breaks

Aquino has stayed true to himself even in his vices, the most visible of which is his smoking which he fondly calls his “oxygen breaks.” He never said smoking was good and he never tried to quit, not even at the risk of this becoming an election issue.

He has not weaseled his way out of the raging reproductive health bill debate as he stood firmly for sex education and providing parents with a choice for alternative ways to stop pregnancy even though he knew how sensitive this issue was to the leaders of the Catholic Church, specifically Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

“We are not talking primarily about overpopulation, but the lack of capacity of the state to start addressing the problems that are already here such as lack of vaccines for newborn babies and classrooms. You have so many other statistics that say that the youth are not being attended to and are relegated to making do with what is available,” Aquino said.

While he takes the campaign very seriously, this has not stopped him from having fun. Despite the sizzling heat, Aquino said he enjoyed riding on six-wheel trucks with makeshift roofs in his motorcade because he could give away his yellow rubber wristbands to the crowd, like throwing rings in an amusement park.

“There’s a certain style of throwing it, depending on how far you want it to go. I can proudly say I’ve become an expert in throwing these baller IDs,” Aquino said. (The team gives out 15,000 to 20,000 baller IDs worth P2.80 each in every province Aquino visits during a motorcade).

Coke and ‘chicharon’

Aquino proudly shows off the scratch marks and bruises on his arms from the grabbing and pulling in his sorties like a warrior would his battle scars.

“Everybody I saw was smiling, they were happy to meet me. Their enthusiasm was enough to bring me through the day even if my first and last meal for the day is dinner,” he said.

One of the biggest surprises in the campaign was how he has held up with his Marlboros and a diet of chilled Coke, and chicharon from Cagayan de Oro City. “I have sinusitis, but I haven’t had any serious episodes on my health during the campaign period despite foregoing so many meals and not having enough rest periods in between motorcades and long trips,” he said.

“This must be how the Beatles felt,” quipped Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr., the Liberal Party (LP) campaign manager, in describing the throngs of people who have swarmed Aquino’s motorcades and rallies with arms wide open and their hands flashing the ubiquitous “L” sign.

Part of the family

Abad said that when people come near Aquino, they look at him not as a rock or movie star but as a part of their family. “It seems that they know him intimately since his family’s life has played out like a telenovela for decades,” he said.

With the fervent response of the crowds to Aquino’s presence, his campaign team felt no need to juice up his personal appearances by bringing in celebrity endorsers and supporters. Kris and husband, basketball star James Yap, only accompanied Aquino twice in his provincial sorties, while actors Dingdong Dantes and Coco Martin came on stage with Aquino only three times.

In between sorties, Aquino gave a glimpse of his playful side, especially with the children whom he interacts with like it was his second nature. His eyes brighten up whenever a child approaches him and he lets their guard down by immediately asking them: “Who’s your playmate?”

During late-night coffee sessions, Aquino regaled his friends and reporters with his funny anecdotes on the games he played with his nephews, Joshua and Baby James (sons of Kris), and how he always kept tabs on their schedule and their appetite.

Aquino, however, clams up when asked whether he would marry Valenzuela City Councilor Shalani Soledad. He has met her sparingly throughout the campaign, probably to emphasize that he has his priorities set. They are not a showy couple and the most personal gesture they displayed in public during the campaign was when Soledad fixed Aquino’s disheveled hair on stage in a rally in her city.

No punching bag

Aquino might have grown up with the who’s who of the country’s richest families and political shakers, but his feet are clearly on the ground as attested to by the company he keeps and the types of jokes he makes. “Wanna buy watch, Joe” is a standard punch line in his campaign spiels and the joke is lost on the predominantly youthful crowd.

He has an anecdote or a joke to share for each person he meets in the rallies or who hops on his float. His top aide, Zaldy de Layola, said Aquino’s way of relaxing was having mindless chatter with his friends from politics, school and media usually exchanging jokes (the kind Joey de Leon makes) and making fun of other people.

“It keeps my mind at ease after long hours of studying,” Aquino said.

He also makes fun of himself, especially his balding head, and this comes as a surprise to most people who meet him for the first time. But he does have a temper and he fights back when he and his family are insulted.

“I wasn’t raised to be a punching bag. I am Catholic but I am not ready to turn the other cheek all the time,” Aquino said.

Makeover

When his sister, television host Kris Aquino, the country’s version of Oprah Winfrey and Paris Hilton combined, approached him for a makeover shortly after declaring his run, Aquino initially gave in just to please her but eventually returned all the expensive clothes and shoes and immediately went back to wearing his “comfort” clothes—soft-collared shirts, high-waist jeans and soft-soled leather shoes.

Aquino was also firm on not getting Botox or hair implants as Kris suggested.

Aquino keeps his wardrobe simple—blue jeans, white underwear, basic shirts and jeans, and off-the-rack formal wear—because he does not want to waste time on deciding what clothes to wear. He also has an assistant to do his shopping for him.

Aquino explained that his message was for honest change and transparency and he would not be truthful to the public if he marketed himself as a suave, fashion-conscious guy in the campaign.

To maintain his credibility, Aquino has made it a point to screen all campaign funders and political allies to make sure that they are not tainted by any corrupt deals with the Arroyo administration or are instigators of the shady transactions themselves.
Aquino said his campaign might be running on a limited budget from the contributions of volunteers and sales of campaign materials, but it did not mean they cannot afford to be picky.

Taking control

One of Aquino’s biggest regrets in his presidential bid was the lack of time for preparations. He described his campaign as being “rushed” compared to the three-year window of others, and he has used it as an excuse for the sluggish start of his campaign team and the slight drop in his ratings in the opinion polls.

“Just imagine if we had the same preparation time as our opponents. But this rushed campaign also showed how the people wanted to get involved in the process and not just looking in. In that way, our process has matured, which made the experience okay,” Aquino said.

Aquino took control over his campaign in February to ensure that it worked smoothly with his coalition partners’ brain trusts, mainly his uncle, Paul Aquino, and LP senatorial candidate Serge Osmeña.

That he has remained at the top of the surveys should be no surprise if you base it on hard work. Aquino has probably been to more provinces, attended more debates, and conducted more interviews than any other candidate.

His critics have also belittled him as just a pushover, overshadowed by his more glamorous and more glib sibling, Kris, and that he would wilt under the pressure of incessant attacks on his character and family during the campaign.

Mudslinging

Aquino, however, has weathered the worst mudslinging a candidate could endure. He has been labeled witless, a spoiled brat, a womanizer, a nightlife habitué, a chain smoker, and a loony, while his family has been branded as opportunists, slave drivers and even murderers. Yet he has emerged smelling like roses based on the most recent Pulse Asia survey which showed him having a 40-percent share or nearly double his two closest rivals.

Aquino said his opponents tend to exaggerate their claims to gain a greater effect, such as in their charges of corruption by “Kamag-anak Inc.” during his mother’s term and the long-standing struggle between his family and the farmers in Hacienda Luisita.
“They say our relatives were corrupt but have there been cases filed against them when we were not in power from 1992 when my mother stepped down and 1998 when I ran for Congress? They say Hacienda Luisita was wracked with many labor disputes, but there have been only four labor cases in five decades,” Aquino said with some irritation.

But Kris herself would be the first to say that Aquino makes his own decisions and stands by them even if it meant going against a friend or relative. Not even his parents could make Aquino change his mind once he has come to a decision.

Kris has already declared that she and her siblings would leave Aquino on his own if he became president that they would only give him sisterly advice. “We have our own homes, so why should we live in Malacañang?” asked Kris, who clarified that her mother lived on Arlegui Street across the Palace during her reign.

Parents behind every step

Aquino said that if it was his obligation to lead this country out of Ms Arroyo’s hell, he would do it within the mandate given to him. “If I’m elected as president, I would have spent close to 20 years in politics. I think that’s enough for one man. When it’s time to pass your papers, I hope that I will leave this country in a better position,” he said.

With the confluence of events at this stage of his life—his mother’s death, his reluctance to run, his sudden jump to the top of the presidential surveys, and his continued stay at the top despite the deluge of black propaganda—even Aquino could not help but feel a sense of destiny in his presidential run not unlike her mother’s fate.

“I guess they (his parents) have always been behind me in every step I took in the campaign. Every time I have problems, I seek their help, including my lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother), who are major influences in my life,” Aquino said.

But will history repeat itself in the sense that his mother was cheated in the 1986 snap polls and it took a People Power revolution to fulfill her destiny? She was also 50 years old when at the cusp of the presidency.

“Hopefully not. We will try our best that it will not happen. I cannot look at this as a personal fight. This is not a question of Noynoy winning the presidency, this is a question of whether or not the people will be able to choose and their choice is reflected without question in the proclamations to be conducted.”

Hang ’em high later, says human rights commission chair

Hang ’em high later, says human rights commission chair
By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Hang them later.

Veteran election lawyer and Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila de Lima Thursday said now was not the time to hold accountable those who caused the pre-election glitches involving the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Ensuring the success of the May 10 elections, De Lima said, should be everyone’s priority.

“With the elections mere days away, this is not yet the time to seek to hold accountable those persons whose actions have led to this muddle,” De Lima said at a forum in Manila. “We can discuss this later at a more opportune time.”

“Instead, there is a need to throw our full support behind the current efforts of the Comelec to ensure that the machines and other paraphernalia are ready and in place in time for Monday, and that the voting process will be secure and the results accurate,” she added.

“We are in a race against the clock, as well as a race against those who would use nefarious means to replace the will of the people with their own political ambitions,” she added.

“This is a race we cannot afford to lose,” De Lima said. Failure of elections, she added, was a violation of human rights.

Bishop Efraim Tendero, of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, said he, too, believed that the blame game should come later after the people had helped ensure the success of the elections.

Tendero said his group continued to trust in the Comelec’s capability to pull off the exercise.

He said, however, that the Comelec should also have a backup plan, including complete manual elections, if necessary.

Smartmatic-TIM Corp., the Venezuelan-led consortium that won the contract to conduct the Philippines’ first totally automated elections, is currently replacing the cards in 76,000 PCOS machines after mock elections held earlier in the week produced erroneous results.